A Trinitarian Ontology of Missions


  • Seng-Kong Tan

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      Seng-Kong Tan is a doctoral candidate in Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. He is a member of the Bethel Assembly of God communion in Singapore.


Bosed on the premise that nature and action are inextricably linked, it is contended that any con-strual of missional theology as the church's participation in the missio Dei, cannot disregard the doctrine of the immanent Trinity. Four images of the Trinity are appropriated as theological maps for a critical and “thick”description of missions. The trinitarian paradigms characterising the three divine Persons as Source, Word and Love (emphasised by the Greek, Protestant and Latin traditions respectively) are used to counterbalance the contemporary bias toward a social Trinity, which draws its inspiration from the classical doctrine of perichoresis. In the processional model, God's transcendence secures a theocentric missiology, while the reciprocity of the Son and Spirit is correlated to incarnational and charismatic ministry. The linguistical paradigm points to our participation in the mission of the Word that demands both proclamation and action; the eternal dialogue within God prompts our continual hearing and speaking, in relation to God and the world. The dispositional image highlights the Spirit of love, who brings about mis-sional spirituality, humility and unity, even as the loving embrace of the Father and Son leads us to participate in the sufferings of those at the margins. Finally, the perichoretic model of the Trinity points to the inseparability of the missio Dei and the imago Dei, being and doing, the self and the Other. The oneness of the divine mission implies an integral missional praxis that is rooted in the worship of this triune God.